RACE RECAP: SHAMROCK MARATHON 2017

One week ago I ran my 15th marathon. Before I get into it, let me set the stage. If you know my story, you know that the marathon has been a journey for me. I ran my first 42.2K in 2008 at the Calgary Marathon and finished in 5:38. I didn’t think much of that time, other than I had *actually* finished. As someone who grew up dancing, I would never have pictured myself a marathoner. Over the years, my relationship has running has evolved. I have goals and big dreams and those are what fuel my fire. Along the way, I have chiselled nearly 2 hours off my marathon time and have set my sights on Boston. I’m close, but I do not, for one second, take for granted the hard work that goes into moving the yard stick from my previous PR of 3:44 (November 2016) to the sub -3:35 it will take to get me to Boston. My goal going into the Shamrock Marathon was to move the yard stick closer.

On the Friday of the race, my husband and I drove from Ottawa to Virginia Beach. We got to Virginia Beach around 8:00pm and dropped our stuff off at our AirBnB. We were tired but all was good. There were some rumblings that there was a storm that weekend, but mentally I would not entertain that. I couldn’t. I knew it would impact my mental game that I have worked so hard on.

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Why not now

The other night I was laying in bed with my mind wide awake. For better or worse, I often do a lot of thinking before falling asleep. While I’m often pretty good at keeping myself in check, on this particular night I was thinking about possible what ifs, many of them not the good what ifs if you catch my drift. What if it doesn’t work, what if I really can’t do XX, what if they don’t like me, what if I’m not good enough…

Do you ever find you think about all the reasons something won’t work, before it’s even happened? Many of these reasons are fictional, of course. There are times that doubt and what ifs have convinced me to play small. To downplay my achievements, or convince myself that something (whether it’s in running, professional, or personal life) could never possibly happen. The worst feeling is the regret of knowing you’ve played small for no other reason than your own self doubt.

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Turn it around

Whether it’s a training run or a race, there will be times that you want to stop. I’ve encountered these moments many times along the way. For example, last Saturday, as I was running through downtown Montreal to complete my 27k, I started to feel blah. My legs were tired, and my mind momentarily started to spiral. In that moment, I decided I was not going to let this moment of doubt define the run and told myself to TURN IT AROUND.

After thousands of kilometres and hundreds of runs of various purposes, speeds and distances, I’ve learned a thing or two about the mental game. I can’t say I was always great at the mental side of things, nor will I claim to have nailed it, but now I have a better idea of what is needed to turn things around. These are some of the things that go through my mind when the going gets tough.

This too shall pass. Like the old adage, run the mile you’re in, I tell myself that I’ll feel better by the next kilometre. 95 percent of the time I do. Sometimes I give myself a few moments to back off, but rarely allow myself to quit completely. Have confidence that it will be a great run.

I do hard things. There are other times where the moments of doubt don’t pass. It is those times that are even more important to run through. I repeat to myself that I do hard things and that these are the times that will make me a stronger runner. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Run through it. There are other times that I literally picture myself running through the negative thoughts or feelings. While it’s easy to say mind>matter, its another to do just that. I’ve worked a lot on this area and use the idea of running through (or over) a brick wall as a mental strategy. Remember, the brick walls are there for a reason.

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